Henry Tam plans food market, offices, more on Chatham Street

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

CBC News


An out-of-town investor who has bought several properties on Chatham Street thinks that Windsor has too many bars and not enough places to get food in its downtown area.

But Henry Tam is hoping to change that with an effort to draw business from the college and university students who are taking classes downtown — a consumer market that he believes will further expand if the law school moves into the Paul Martin Building.

He's hoping to establish what he describes as a food court-like market where people can grab a bite to eat late at night. He's also got plans to see modern office spaces a trendy restaurant take their place on the strip.

"Somebody has to do something," Tam, who lives in Markham, Ont., told local reporters in an interview on Monday.

"I don't mind to be the first guinea pig," he said.

Tam said he now owns three buildings on Chatham Street. He estimates he has spent $4 million so far. He expects his plan for the food market will require another $750,000 to $1 million in renovations.

Monday, Tam met with city officials to discuss what he has in mind for his properties.

Realtor Robert Peters believes Tam's plan is a safe bet, particularly as more students live and work downtown.

"He understands that for him to be successful, he has to have a successful tenant that's making money," he told CBC News.

Coun. Rino Bortolin is cautiously optimistic about what Tam wants to do and he believes a cash injection is what is needed for the strip.

"Investment in the core is important, we'll take it in almost any way that it comes," he said. "But definitely something like this, where it's a major investment that spans almost an entire block, is a great, welcome investment."